Published On: Wed, Mar 23rd, 2016

Obama calls on US Congress to lift Cuba embargo

Barack-ObamaHAVANA, Cuba - One of the ways to help Cubans is that the US Congress should lift the embargo once and for all, US President Barack Obama reiterated on Monday, during an official visit to the Caribbean island until Tuesday.

As part of his agenda in Havana, Obama spoke with Cuban and US entrepreneurs at a business forum organized by the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, in which the two sides explored opportunities for commercial exchanges.

Obama acknowledged the process of changes in Cuba as part of the updating of its economic and social model, within which the opening of self-employment, "a branch generating employment," falls.

While addressing an audience also composed of representatives of the state and cooperative sectors, the US president expressed his confidence in the potential of Cubans.

He acknowledged the high educational level, the capacity to create and the wit of Cubans, attractions to capture the investment of US businesses, among them the Cuban-American community.

Obama said that his country wants to become a trading partner of Cuba, while mentioning the authorization of his administration for the companies Cleber LLC, Starwood Hotels and Airbnb to have a presence in the Caribbean island.

Cuba has first class physicians and nurses, the president pointed out, referring to what Miriam Portuondo, a businesswoman in the field of Cuban health, expressed at the forum.

While alluding to the speech on Cuba's medical potential, Obama stated that "it's very interesting, since we agreed with the Cuban government to establish and develop joint scientific cooperation in the medical field."

"I have always believed that knowledge is something that has to be shared, no matter the political system we may have. Diseases are the same, therefore, working together to find solutions is something very important," he underlined.

Obama has repeated on several occasions since the joint announcement of rapprochement on December 17, 2014, that the US embargo has failed, and has asked the US Congress to lift the laws codifying the policy.

Prior to this meeting, Obama made a statement to the press after holding official talks with Cuban President Raul Castro.

In this regard, he expressed that the future of Cubans will be decided by Cubans themselves and no one else.

"Cuba has the right to be sovereign," he pointed out.

His trip to the Caribbean island takes place scarcely 15 months after the historic events of December 17, 2014, when the presidents of Cuba and the United States announced the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations after over five decades.

This visit, the first by an American head of state to post-revolutionary Cuba, is considered to be an important step in the road towards the normalization to bilateral ties, for which the lifting of the embargo on the island and the return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base are said to be determining factors.

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